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How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Alcohol?

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Alcohol is a legal substance that many adults enjoy using on a regular basis. It is also used by underage individuals who obtain and use alcohol illegally. When alcohol is abused, it increases the risk of developing an addiction to it. It also raises the question, “How long does it take to get addicted to alcohol?” 

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Alcohol?

How fast can you get addicted to alcohol will vary from one person to the next. Some people can drink alcohol daily and never become dependent or addicted to it. Other people can be more prone to alcohol use disorder (AUD) when they have a family history of addiction. 

Having a mental health disorder or a family history of mental health disorders can also be a contributing factor. People often drink to self-medicate their co-occurring mental health disorder symptoms. Other people’s conditions are triggered by continued drinking, such as feeling sad or depressed after drinking heavily the night before. 

Usually, the development of AUD is a gradual process. It begins by experiencing the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Once the brain remembers these sensations, it can encourage people to drink again. Even when they experience negative effects, like vomiting and hangovers, the pleasurable effects are so enjoyable people will drink again. 

Another factor that is related to how fast you can get addicted to alcohol is the frequency and amount consumed. For example, those who binge drink large quantities of alcohol frequently are at a higher risk of developing AUD. 

When Does Alcohol Addiction Start?

Technically, alcohol addiction could potentially start the moment someone takes their first drink. Since there is no way to tell who will become addicted and who will not, individuals intentionally put themselves at risk each time they drink. 

Some people believe they won’t become addicted if they only have a few drinks occasionally. Other people think they can have a few drinks daily and not get addicted. Then, others believe they will be fine if they only binge drink once a week. 

How Fast Does Alcohol Enter the Bloodstream?

Alcohol enters the bloodstream fairly quickly, usually within minutes of being drunk. Initially, it enters the bloodstream through the stomach lining. It is also absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine.

The speed of absorption does vary based on various factors, such as:

  • Was food consumed before drinking?
  • The amount and speed alcohol is consumed.
  • The weight of the person drinking.
  • How fast alcohol is metabolized.
  • The sex of the person—women tend to experience alcohol’s effects faster than men.

How Does Alcohol Addiction Start?

When does alcohol addiction start depends on the person and their drinking habits. Generally, the more often a person drinks, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. If the person finds the effects pleasurable, it will also contribute to continued drinking. 

Additionally, as a person continues to drink, the body will build up a tolerance to alcohol. This means the person must consume larger quantities to achieve the desired effects. Usually, once they reach this stage, their body has started to become dependent on alcohol. If they continue to increase how much they drink to address tolerance, they gradually become addicted.

Stages of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction progresses through several stages as the person gradually becomes addicted. The first stage is called early-stage addiction. This is where the individual is increasing their intake to address the effects of tolerance. They will also start to crave alcohol more often and look forward to drinking. 

The next stage is called middle-stage addiction. In this stage, people have developed alcohol dependence. Once they start, they can find it difficult to control their drinking. The amount of alcohol drunk also continues to increase. They may also begin to have a relationship, work, and school-related problems. Many people in this stage are in denial about their alcohol use. 

End-stage alcohol addiction is where the person now drinks just to function. Their addiction has reached the point where they only care about drinking. A person may lose all interest in activities, hobbies, and social activities they used to enjoy. Additionally, they will look for any opportunity and excuse to drink. They can also start experiencing health issues related to their drinking, such as liver disease. 

The recovery stage begins when the person usually “bottoms out” and finally realizes they are addicted to alcohol. Recovery is possible with medically supervised detox and ongoing addiction treatment. It can seem scary admitting when someone needs help and starting detox. However, it is important to remember individuals are not alone as they begin their recovery journey. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Physically Addicted to Alcohol?

How long does it take to get physically addicted to alcohol depends on a person’s drinking habits. For example, binge drinkers are more likely to get physically addicted within several months of continued binge drinking.

For other people, as tolerance builds and they increase their alcohol intake, it can take slightly longer. In other cases, where the person engages in heavy drinking multiple times weekly, they could become addicted in several weeks. 

Signs of Severe Alcohol Abuse

The signs of severe alcohol abuse include:

  • Inability to control drinking
  • Drinking larger quantities to achieve the desired effects
  • Day drinking and drinking continuously throughout the drink
  • Drinking to stop withdrawal symptoms like hangovers
  • Looking forward to drinking for any reason
  • Drinking at times or places that are inappropriate, like work or school
  • Not caring about the impacts drinking is having on relationships
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors while under the influence
  • Experiencing blackouts

Alcohol Detox

The crucial first step to overcoming alcohol addiction is going through medically supervised alcohol detox. Alcohol detox needs to be supervised as withdrawal symptoms are often unpleasant. Some people are also at risk for seizures and DTs.

With medically supervised alcohol detox, various medications can be used to help manage and alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Find Alcoholism Treatment in Murfreesboro, TN

When you are ready to get help for alcohol addiction, find comprehensive treatment options at Tulip Hill in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We offer personalized alcohol addiction detox and treatment plans customized to your unique needs. Our caring and supportive staff are here to help and guide you on the road to recovery.

Contact us now to discover the path to an alcohol-free, brighter tomorrow. 

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Take the next step to your recovery.